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Joey Manu has won the race for the fullback jersey over Joseph Suaalii as the Roosters star makes a timely return from suspension in Round 6.
Roosters captain James Tedesco has been sidelined for at least this round after copping a high hit from Eels winger Bailey Simonsson, who accepted a ban of two matches for his high shot rather than risking a three-game suspension by contesting the grade-three careless high tackle charge.
Suaalii starred at fullback for the win over Parramatta but Manu, who was out last week due to a careless high tackle against Souths, has been preferred for the No.1 jersey this Thursday against the Storm in Melbourne.
Teams have been announced for Round 6 of the NRL and Sharks skipper Dale Finucane, Warriors forward Marata Niukore and Canterbury winger Jayden Okunbor have copped hip-drop suspensions on the chin after receiving grade-two charges for the dangerous tactic.
Finucane will miss three matches after Cronulla’s bye this week for his 75th-minute hit on Warriors fullback Charnze-Nicoll-Klokstad because it is his third offence while Niukore has been banned two games for his incident involving Siosifa Talakai in the same game as it’s his second offence. Okunbor accepted a one-game suspension rather than risking two weeks at the judiciary due to his clean record.
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Losing Okunbor is a blow to the Bulldogs for the traditional Good Friday clash with South Sydney. Second-rower Raymond Faitala-Mariner (concussion) and young prop Franklin Pele (broken arm) will be missing while fellow forwards Max King (eye) and Jacob Preston (hand) are in doubt but have been named in the team.
Canterbury coach Cameron Ciraldo on Thursday said he would leave it right up until kick-off before confirming the availability of Preston and King.
Tevita Pangai jnr is still sidelined with his calf strain and Viliame Kikau has already been ruled out after copping a head knock at training on Saturday.
He almost opted to bring Pangai back early but said he wanted to take a cautious approach with the Tongan wrecking-ball, who hasn’t played a game this season.
North Queensland are also in the midst of a five-day turnaround with forwards Heilum Luki and Jordan McLean unable to face the Dolphins in Townsville on Friday night due to hamstring problems.
Warriors captain Tohu Harris is taking a wait and see approach with his knee injury and while he took part in a light training at Mt Smart Stadium on Wednesday the lock wouldn’t confirm if he’ll take his place against Newcastle at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday.
“The knee is going alright,” Harris said. “I’m just ticking the boxes as they come along and trying to give myself every opportunity to get back on the field. It’s too hard to call at the moment but I’m very optimistic. It was hard watching the game on the weekend, so I just want to be out there on the field with the boys. But I have to make sure I’m doing the right things.”
St George Illawarra forward Jaydn Su’A injured his calf in the win over the Dolphins but he has been named to play this weekend.
The Dolphins are stretched for playmakers with veteran Anthony Milford (hamstring) joining Sean O’Sullivan (pectoral) on the sidelines for at least a month. Kodi Nikorima has been recalled.
Canberra are also struggling for halves with Matt Frawley out for six weeks after breaking his hand in the loss to Penrith. Star five-eighth Jack Wighton is still suspended for this Saturday’s trip to Brisbane to face the unbeaten Broncos.
Injury-plagued Canberra veteran Jarrod Croker has been named to play his first game since May in a boost to his bid to reach 300 NRL games. Croker will assume the Raiders captaincy against Brisbane, marking game 293 for the centre.
Jarrod Croker has earned a reprieve in the centres after nearly a year out of the NRL due to injuries and form.
Panthers prop James Fisher-Harris (knee) and second-rower Liam Martin (hamstring) won’t suit up this Saturday against Manly.
Sea Eagles winger Christian Tuipulotu is out for three weeks with a knee injury while bench forward Ben Trbojevic is looking at twice as long out due to a hamstring tear but Josh Schuster (thigh) is back at five-eighth.
The Eels have received a boost with Shaun Lane back after recovering from a broken jaw suffered in the pre-season.
Knights forward Lachlan Fitzgibbon (Grade 1 High Tackle – $1000), Dolphins veteran Herman Ese’ese (Grade 1 Dangerous Contact – $1000), Dragons duo Mikaele Ravalawa (Grade 1 High Tackle – $1000) and Jack de Belin (Grade 1 Dangerous Contact – $1000), and Wests Tigers youngsters Fonua Pole (Grade 1 Crusher Tackle – $1500) and Junior Tupou (Grade 1 Shoulder Charge – $1500) entered early guilty pleas for their fines.
Round 6 team lists
Storm vs Roosters, at AAMI Park – 7.50pm, Thursday, April 6
Storm: 1. Nick Meaney 2. William Warbrick 3. Reimis Smith 4. Justin Olam 5. Xavier Coates 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Tui Kamikamica 9. Harry Grant 10. Christian Welch 11. Trent Loiero 12. Eliesa Katoa 13. Josh King 14. Bronson Garlick 15. Alec MacDonald 16. Tom Eisenhuth 17. Tariq Sims 18. Jordan Grant 19. Grant Anderson 20. Tyran Wishart 21. Jack Howarth 22. Jonah Pezet
Jahrome Hughes will return from his dangerous contact ban so rookie Jonah Pezet drops out of the halves to the reserves.
Veteran forward Tepai Moeroa (calf) is inching closer to full fitness but is another week away at least.
Roosters: 1. Joey Manu 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Joseph Suaalii 4. Drew Hutchison 5. Jaxson Paulo 6. Luke Keary 7. Sam Walker 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Brandon Smith 10. Lindsay Collins 11. Egan Butcher 12. Nat Butcher 13. Victor Radley 14. Jake Turpin 15. Terrell May 16. Corey Allan 17. Fletcher Baker 18. Naufahu Whyte 19. Paul Momirovski 20. Sandon Smith 21. Siua Wong 22. Ben Thomas
James Tedesco (concussion) will sit this one out but Joey Manu is back after a one-game suspension for a grade-two careless high tackle. Manu has beaten out Joseph Suaalii for the fullback gig with the teenage code-hopper selected in the centres.
Utility Drew Hutchison keeps his spot in the centres to accommodate Manu’s move.
New recruit Nathan Brown (hamstring) is close to making a return to the playing field after his recent switch from Parramatta.
Bulldogs vs Rabbitohs, at Accor Stadium – 4pm, Friday, April 7
Bulldogs: 1. Hayze Perham 2. Jacob Kiraz 3. Jake Averillo 4. Paul Alamoti 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Matt Burton 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Max King 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Ryan Sutton 11. Corey Waddell 12. Jacob Preston 13. Harrison Edwards 14. Josh Reynolds 15. Kurtis Morrin 16. Jayden Tanner 17. Jackson Topine 19. Karl Oloapu 20. Braidon Burns 21. Samuel Hughes 22. Reece Hoffman 23. Andrew Davey
Jayden Okunbor (hip-drop tackle) has been slapped with a one-game ban while second-rower Raymond Faitala-Mariner (concussion) and young prop Franklin Pele (broken arm) will also be missing, along with Viliame Kikau after he suffered a head knock at training on Saturday.
Fellow forwards Max King (eye) and Jacob Preston (hand) are in doubt but have been named to play. Front-rower Tevita Pangai jnr’s return from his calf strain has been delayed but second-rower Andrew Davey (concussion) has been named among the reserves.
Young lock Harrison Edwards and bench duo Jackson Topine and Jayden Tanner have been broght into the game-day 17.
Rabbitohs: 1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Taane Milne 3. Isaiah Tass 4. Campbell Graham 5. Izaac Tu’itupou Thompson 6. Cody Walker 7. Lachlan Ilias 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. Keaon Koloamatangi 12. Jacob Host 13. Cameron Murray 14. Jed Cartwright 15. Daniel Suluka-Fifita 16. Davvy Moale 17. Hame Sele 18. Michael Chee Kam 19. Blake Taaffe 20. Ben Lovett 21. Josiah Karapani 22. Dean Hawkins
Jai Arrow is again out with his hamstring problem while winger Alex Johnston (head knock) has failed the concussion protocols, replaced by Taane Milne.
He will play his first game since being sent off for a shocking high tackle on Spencer Leniu in last year’s preliminary final. Milne counted the World Cup towards his six-match ban, but it has taken a concussion to Johnston for him to break back into the side.
The Rabbitohs welcome their player of the year Junior Tatola back from a knee injury.
Cowboys vs Dolphins, at QCB Stadium – 8pm, Friday, April 7
Cowboys: 1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Valentine Holmes 4. Peta Hiku 5. Brendan Elliot 6. Tom Dearden 7. Chad Townsend 8. Mitchell Dunn 9. Reece Robson 10. Reuben Cotter 11. Coen Hess 12. Griffin Neame 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Jake Granville 15. Tomas Chester 16. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 17. Riley Price 18. Ben Hampton 19. Jack Gosiewski 20. Taniela Sadrugu 21. Kulikefu Finefeuiaki 22. Jake Bourke
Jordan McLean and Heilum Luki are out after suffering hamstring strains in Sunday’s loss to Canterbury. Scott Drinkwater has served his ban and even though coach Todd Payten said it wasn’t a fait accompli that Tom Chester would make way for him at fullback, the rookie has been relegated to the interchange.
Reuben Cotter is set to return from his knee problem but Jeremiah Nanai has another week to serve on his suspension.
Dolphins: 1. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 2. Jamayne Isaako 3. Euan Aitken 4. Brenko Lee 5. Edrick Lee 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Isaiya Katoa 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Herman Ese’ese 11. Kenny Bromwich 12. Connelly Lemuelu 13. Tom Gilbert 14. Jarrod Wallace 15. Mark Nicholls 16. Ray Stone 17. Kurt Donoghoe 18. Poasa Faamausili 19. Mason Teague 20. JJ Collins 21. Jack Bostock 22. Robert Jennings
Kodi Nikorima has been called into the halves with Anthony Milford (hamstring) joining Sean O’Sullivan (pectoral) on the sidelines for at least a month.
Edrick Lee makes his first appearance as a Dolphin on the wing ahead of last week’s debutant, Jack Bostock.
Panthers vs Sea Eagles, at BlueBet Stadium – 5.30pm, Saturday, April 8
Panthers: 1. Dylan Edwards 2. Sunia Turuva 3. Izack Tago 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To’o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Moses Leota 9. Mitch Kenny 10. Matt Eisenhuth 11. Scott Sorensen 12. Zac Hosking 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Soni Luke 15. Lindsay Smith 16. Spencer Leniu 17. Jaeman Salmon 18. Tyrone Peachey 19. Jack Cogger 20. Eddie Blacker 21. Kurt Falls 22. Thomas Jenkins
James Fisher-Harris is out with a knee injury while fellow forward Liam Martin (hamstring) remains on the sidelines.
Young hooker Soni Luke (concussion) will return via the bench while Matt Eisenhuth will start for JFH.
Sea Eagles: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jason Saab 3. Brad Parker 4. Morgan Harper 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Josh Schuster 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Taniela Paseka 9. Lachlan Croker 10. Jake Trbojevic 11. Haumole Olakau’atu 12. Kelma Tuilagi 13. Josh Aloiai 14. Kaeo Weekes 15. Karl Lawton 16. Ethan Bullemor 17. Sean Keppie 18. Toafofoa Sipley 19. Cooper Johns 20. Ray Tuaimalo-Vaega 21. Samuela Fainu 22. Aaron Woods
Josh Schuster (thigh) is returning after he was replaced at five-eighth by Cooper Johns for last Saturday’s draw with Newcastle. Jason Saab has overcome his serious knee injury and replaces Christian Tuipulotu on the wing after he was ruled out for three weeks with a knee injury.
Bench forward Ben Trbojevic is looking at six weeks out due to a hamstring tear so Karl Lawton is the fresh face on the interchange.
Broncos vs Raiders, at Suncorp Stadium – 7.35pm, Saturday, April 8
Broncos: 1. Reece Walsh 2. Jesse Arthars 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Selwyn Cobbo 6. Ezra Mam 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Thomas Flegler 9. Billy Walters 10. Payne Haas 11. Kurt Capewell 12. Jordan Riki 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Cory Paix 15. Keenan Palasia 16. Corey Jensen 17. Martin Taupau 18. Jordan Pereira 19. Brendan Piakura 20. Kobe Hetherington 21. Jock Madden 22. Xavier Willison
The undefeated competition leaders have no injury concerns as they look to make it six on the trot.
Raiders: 1. Seb Kris 2. Albert Hopoate 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Matthew Timoko 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Brad Schneider 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Josh Papalii 9. Zac Woolford 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Corey Horsburgh 14. Tom Starling 15. Emre Guler 16. Pasami Saulo 17. Corey Harawira-Naera 18. James Schiller 19. Trey Mooney 20. Peter Hola 21. Harley Smith-Shields 22. Clay Webb
Matt Frawley suffered a broken hand in the loss to Penrith and with Jack Wighton suspended until Round 7, young playmaker Brad Schneider will partner Jamal Fogarty in the halves.
Nick Cotric (hamstring) and Xavier Savage (jaw) are still a couple of weeks away from a return.
Veteran centre Jarrod Croker has been named to play his first NRL match since Round 9 last year.
Titans vs Dragons, at Cbus Super Stadium – 4.05pm, Sunday, April 9
Titans: 1. Jayden Campbell 2. Alofiana Khan-Pereira 3. Brian Kelly 4. Aaron Schoupp 5. Phillip Sami 6. Toby Sexton 7. Tanah Boyd 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Chris Randall 10. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 11. David Fifita 12. Joe Stimson 13. Isaac Liu 14. Erin Clark 15. Jo Vuna 16. Iszac Fa’asumaleaui 17. Klese Haas 18. Sam McIntyre 19. Kruise Leeming 20. Jojo Fifita 21. Keano Kini 22. Treymain Spry
Veteran five-eighth Kieran Foran is out after suffering a grade-two calf strain against North Queensland in Round 4 before they had the bye last week. Toby Sexton has been recalled in the halves to replace the Kiwi international.
Star fullback AJ Brimson (hamstring) is out so Jayden Campbell comes into the starting side.
English hooker Kruse Leeming, who joined the club from Leeds Rhinos earlier this week, has been named among the reserves.
Dragons: 1. Tyrell Sloan 2. Mathew Feagai 3. Moses Suli 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Talatau Amone 7. Ben Hunt 8. Francis Molo 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Blake Lawrie 11. Ben Murdoch-Masila 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Jack Bird 14. Moses Mbye 15. Jack de Belin 16. Toby Couchman 17. Josh Kerr 18. Michael Molo 19. Tautau Moga 20. Zane Musgrove 21. Jayden Sullivan 22. Jaiyden Hunt
Jack de Belin is free to play after only receiving a fine for dangerous contact when he made his first appearance of the year in the win over the Dolphins in Wollongong. Jaydn Su’A (calf) is under a cloud.
Jayden Sullivan (shoulder) may be right to return but he has been named in the reserves with Junior Amone remaining at five-eighth.
Knights vs Warriors, at McDonald Jones Stadium – 6.15pm, Sunday, April 9
Knights: 1. Lachlan Miller 2. Dominic Young 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Greg Marzhew 6. Phoenix Crossland 7. Jackson Hastings 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Leo Thompson 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13. Jack Johns 14. Kurt Mann 15. Jack Hetherington 16. Mathew Croker 17. Brodie Jones 18. Enari Tuala 19. Dylan Lucas 20. Thomas Cant 21. Hymel Hunt 22. Ryan Rivett
Mat Croker (ribs) and Kurt Mann (concussion) are set to play but Adam Elliott (groin) is out again.
Tyson Gamble has been laid low after copping a head knock so Phoenix Crossland replaces him at five-eighth.
Kalyn Ponga could be back in the next 2-3 weeks after his latest stint on the sidelines due to a concussion.
Warriors: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Edward Kosi 3. Viliami Vailea 4. Adam Pompey 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 10. Bunty Afoa 11. Jackson Ford 12. Bayley Sironen 13. Tohu Harris 14. Dylan Walker 15. Josh Curran 16. Jazz Tevaga 17. Tom Ale 18. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 20. Taine Tuaupiki 21. Freddy Lussick 22. Ronald Volkman 23. Demitric Sifakula
Marata Niukore has copped a two-game ban for a hip-drop tackle on Siosifa Talakai even though the incident appeared to have no malicious intent.
Warriors captain Tohu Harris is taking a wait and see approach with his knee injury and while he took part in a light training at Mt Smart Stadium on Wednesday the lock wouldn’t confirm if he’ll take his place.
Wests Tigers vs Eels, at Accor Stadium, – 4pm, Monday, April 10
Tigers: 1. Charlie Staines 2. Asu Kepaoa 3. Brent Naden 4. Starford To’a 5. Junior Tupou 6. Adam Doueihi 7. Luke Brooks 8. Stefano Utoikamanu 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. David Klemmer 11. Isaiah Papali’i 12. John Bateman 13. Fonua Pole 14. Jake Simpkin 15. Alex Twal 16. Joe Ofahengaue 17. Shawn Blore 18. Justin Matamua 19. Alex Seyfarth 20. Brandon Wakeham 21. Ruatapu Ngatikaura 22. Daine Laurie
Brent Naden (illness) should be right to play but Tommy Talau (broken nose) needs another week to recover.
Tim Sheens has ended the Adam Doueihi fullback experiment with the Lebanese international going back to five-eighth with Charlie Staines switching from the wing and Asu Kepaoa heading to the flank.
Eels: 1. Clint Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Viliami Penisini 4. Sean Russell 5. Haze Dunster 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Wiremu Greig 11. Shaun Lane 12. Bryce Cartwright 13. Ryan Matterson 14. J’maine Hopgood 15. Brendan Hands 16. Jack Murchie 17. Makahesi Makatoa 18. Jakob Arthur 19. Matt Doorey 20. Ofahiki Ogden 21. Ky Rodwell 22. Waqa Blake
Bailey Simonsson has been banned for two weeks for his high shot on James Tedesco with Haze Dunster replacing him on the wing. The Eels welcome Dunster back from the horror knee injury he suffered in last year’s pre-season trials.
Parramatta co-captain Junior Paulo has another match to serve for his high shot against Penrith.
Sean Russell has replaced dropped veteran Waqa Blake at centre while Shaun Lane has recovered from his broken jaw, sending back-rower J’maine Hopgood to the interchange.
Bye – Sharks
Sharks: Dale Finucane will get a lengthier break due to his three-game hip-drop ban but Wade Graham (suspension) and Oregon Kaufusi (concussion) will be available next Friday when Cronulla host the Roosters.
Cronulla prop Toby Rudolf limped off with a foot injury late in the loss to the Warriors.